Social Security Numbers
A Social Security number (SSN) is used to track earnings in the U.S. for the purposes of social security benefits, such as retirement income. You can only apply for an SSN as an F-1 student if you are currently working in the U.S. Please refer to the Social Security Administration document International Students and Social Security Numbers.
Once you have an SSN, you keep that same number for life. However, you can only apply for a replacement card if you meet the criteria for card issuance (for an F-1 student, this means you must be currently employed). Please keep your social security card in a safe place and be cautious about sharing your SSN because it could be used for identity theft. SSNs are often used for credit checks and background checks.
Social Security Card
To obtain a social security number as an F-1 student, follow these steps:
You must have active record in SEVIS. For new students, your ISS advisor needs to update your SEVIS record from initial to active. If you are a new student and you need to apply for an SSN earlier, please contact your International Student Advisor to make sure your SEVIS record is already active.
Obtain your work authorization and/or complete your employment verification form:
On-campus employment: You can apply for your SSN no earlier than 30 days before your on-campus employment start date. When you have found an on-campus job, you must complete the On-Campus Employment Social Security Verification Form. Once your employer has signed the form, bring it to your ISS advisor for a final signature at the bottom of the form.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT): You can apply for your SSN no earlier than 30 days before your CPT start date. Before you apply, you will need to go through the process with your International Student Advisor to get your CPT approval. CPT authorization on page 2 of your I-20 is proof of your job offer and your work authorization. In addition, ISS will issue you a letter at the same time as issuenace of your CPT approved I-20.
Optional Practical Training (OPT): You can apply for your SSN no earlier than the start date on your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, which is the card you receive after you have been approved for OPT. You do not need an employer letter or a letter from ISS; your EAD card is proof of your work authorization.
Visit the ISS Employment Page for more details
Apply in person at a Social Security Administration office. You can locate an office and the office hours by using the Social Security Office Locator. The closest office to our campus is located near the Tacoma Mall at 2608 S 47th St, Tacoma, WA 98409.
Bring with you:
- Completed Social Security Card Application
- Valid passport
- Valid visa (OK if expired) or change of status approval notice
- I-94 (download and print out I-94 by visiting this page)
- Valid I-20 (most recent)
- On-Campus Employment Social Security Verification Form OR I-20 with CPT authorization on page 2+Letter from ISS OR I-20 plus EAD card showing approved OPT
WA State dentification Cards
Washington Driver's License
How to Apply for Your Washington Driver's License or State ID
ISS encourages all students to use a Washington State ID as an easy, safe and legal way of showing your identity for general purposes, rather than your passport. Please keep your passport and other immigration documents in a safe place. Please request a Support Document from ISS when applying for WA State ID or Drivers License. Find the instructions here to apply for a WA State License or ID: WA State Department of Licensing Office